Belarus must keep it on!

As Sierra Leone votes, authorities must #KeepItOn

Sierra Leone’s general elections are scheduled for Saturday, June 24, 2023 — President Julius Maada Bio has a responsibility to ensure that the internet, social media platforms, and all other communication channels remain open, secure, and accessible before, during, and after polling day.

Through an open letter, Access Now, the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International, and the #KeepItOn coalition are calling on authorities to not repeat past censorship actions, and make a commitment to uphold human rights.

Open internet access is a gateway to democracy. As people across Sierra Leone head to vote they have the right to inform themselves on policy, vet political candidates, and access up-to-date information on polling locations and times. Internet shutdowns are attempts to barricade the power of the people. They harm everyone. Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now

In 2022, the #KeepItOn coalition documented at least two internet shutdowns in Sierra Leone which were imposed by the government in an attempt to quell anti-government protests in Freetown. Internet shutdowns interfere with people’s fundamental human rights and endanger lives during crises.

All internet shutdowns and bans on mobile services completely violate people’s right to free speech, right to access the internet, and right to gather and form groups online. Abdul Fatoma, Executive Director of the Campaign for Human Rights and Development International in Sierra Leone